Chilnualna Falls

I’m loving that I have coworkers that enjoy adventures as much as I do! Since the snow hasn’t hit yet, a lot of Yosemite is still pretty hike-able and we took to the trails a few weekends ago to hit Chilnualna Falls, a hike right in Wawona just past the lodge. We got to the trailhead pretty early and there was only one other group of people there.

The hike started out pretty uphill but we got a peak of some falls almost right away!

It was pretty chilly to start the hike so we were bundled, but within a short distance we were all de-layering ourselves. After these falls, we started on some switchbacks with a steady climb; for that I was thankful for, after it only being a short while since my climb up to Yosemite Point.

Before long we made it up to the top of the falls! It was pretty icy up there.

Some of the crew:

A little more up and we came to a crossroads and weren’t quite sure where to go… but we knew we wanted a closer peak at the falls so we crossed a little stream and got some pretty epic views…

It was frozen and beautiful!

We took a bunch of pictures, ate some snacks and relaxed in the sun before making our way back down. A friend dared me to go climb on some rocks way out over the view when we were headed back, so naturally I had to do it…

See me on the right? Hey!

We eventually made our way back down and headed back to town – the perfect day hike in Yosemite!

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Big Sur Road Trip

I had my first visitor a few weeks ago and never got a chance to recap our weekend! One of my former coworkers from Philadelphia came out to visit and left the planning to me – I hadn’t been to the coast yet so I thought, let’s do Big Sur!

A portion of Big Sur is still closed from the mudslides last Spring, but you’re able to get from Monterey down to right before Ragged Point. At that point, you have to turn back and either head back North to Monterey, or take Nacimiento Fergusson Road just past Mill Creek Picnic Area heading North. Fair warning: this road is WINDY, steep, and narrow. But if you’re heading south it’s the only option unless you want to go all the way back to Monterey and then down 101.

We left Fresno early and made it to Monterey around 9, gassed up and hit the PCH!

We made sure to stop at multiple points along the way and just take in the amazing coastline. We all know how much mountains make me happy… but when you add in an ocean beside it, ugh. It was just beautiful and the weather was SO good to us.

One of the biggest stops had to be McWay Falls – the iconic waterfall that drops in to the ocean. This is a short walk from the highway and definitely worth the stop. The lighting was pretty terrible since the sun was behind the falls, but it was beautiful.

The water level and the tide were low, but you can see the falls to the left there. The color of the water was unreal. It blows me away every time I see the Pacific Ocean – I’m used to the murky, sandy Atlantic Ocean back at home and the west coast is just so different.

After taking our windy trip through mountains to eventually end up on 101 – we made out way to Pismo Beach, our first stop of the weekend. My friend has a family friend that offered her beach house for us to use for the night which was so sweet and worked out perfectly. We dropped our things off at the condo then headed out to catch the sunset, and you guys…

It…

Was…

Beautiful…

After the sun set, we headed back to the house to relax a bit before finding an easy dinner and crashing. Saturday morning came and we continued down south to Santa Barbara…

It was pretty early when we got there so not much was open yet, but we walked around and shook out our legs before heading a bit further south to Ventura. I just realized I didn’t take any pictures while in Ventura – fail! Our first stop was to Channel Islands National Park! We just stopped in to the visitor center so I could grab my sticker, I wasn’t sure what my friend would want to do so I didn’t book a boat out there, but would have loved to do that. Heading back downtown, we stumbled upon a “Wine Walk”, which we didn’t see any wine… but there was an entire festival with booths lined up in downtown! We grabbed a bite to eat at a brewery and then walked up and down the streets checking out the vendors before eventually heading back to the car.

We didn’t have plans for a place to stay yet so we continued our way south and I decided a quick stop at Venice Boardwalk for the sunset would be a perfect stop!

It was cool to be able to see Venice Beach and the boardwalk, since I see it in so many movies! The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful, we got a hotel and then Sunday morning my friend grabbed a shuttle to LAX and I made my way back to Fresno.

It was a great trip along the coast and I was so happy to have someone to finally enjoy some adventures with!

Upper Yosemite Falls to Yosemite Point

Being away from family is hard around the holidays, but there are ways to enjoy the day even when thousands of miles from your closest loved ones. Hiking, is the activity that I chose to take up my Thanksgiving this year – who would’ve thought?! 😉

Tunnel view at dawn

Since I am going back east for Christmas, it wasn’t feasible for me to get home for Thanksgiving too, so I hung around here and planned out a big hike: Yosemite Point via the Upper Yosemite Falls trail. This trail is about 4.2 miles up (and I mean up) with an overall gain of over 4,000 feet. It did not disappoint and to date, is one of the toughest but most rewarding hikes I’ve done.

I can’t stress this tip enough: start early. The climb is no joke, there are endless rocky switchbacks that are super steep. I got to the trailhead around 7:45am and started my trek.

Immediately, the uphill climb started. Before long you reach Columbia Rock (about a mile in) and are rewarded with some views of the valley.

The early morning was casting some weird shadows over the valley but it was still beautiful. I didn’t stop long, as I knew I had a long uphill climb ahead of me and I only know one speed when hiking! I kept climbing upwards and eventually was treated with a short downhill portion. It was a pleasant treat but I knew the worst was yet to come. Soon I rounded a corner and was treated to a view of the falls!

The views were already unbeatable and I couldn’t wait to get up to the top! This is where the rocky, exposed switchbacks started and they were tough. It was only in the 9:00 hour and it was already hot! I stopped for a brief period a few times but continued trekking up.

I got excited when I started to see more greenery, because I knew I was almost there! Next thing I knew everything was leveling out and the path was leading me to the edge.

Made it! It was a loooong way down. I went down to the waterfall’s edge where you follow some steep steps with handrails before turning back and jumping back on the trail up towards Yosemite  Point. I was treated to this view of the water leading down in to the falls which was beautiful.

It’s about .8 of a mile to get up to Yosemite Point, but if you have the energy/time/daylight to do it, it’s a must. My legs were shaking by the time I got up there but you guys…

You’re rewarded with the most incredible view of the park and of Half Dome with the Sierras all across the skyline. It was unreal. I stayed up there for a snack and to take lots of pictures and then turned around and returned the way that I came. Those switchbacks were plain hard going up, but coming back down was scary! It’s two days later right now and my muscles are SO sore, but it was worth it.

With the sun up a little higher in the sky on the way down, it was hot! I couldn’t believe how many people were on their way up at the 11 o’clock hour. Do yourself a favor and don’t put yourself through that, start early! I had 3L of water with me and went through 2L easy, and cracked open my 1L bottle on my way down.

On the way down, you’re treated with even better views of the falls at this time because of where the sun was hitting them…

Beautiful!

I went quick on the way back down, to the dismay of my knees and quads, but I really only know one speed and I get anxious to finish the hike on the way back down, haha! Once I hit Columbia Rock, the crowds started up and I had to pass a lot of people. Luckily most were kind and would hear me coming and pull off to the side – trail courtesy at its finest. I was surprised to see how crowded it was, given that it was Thanksgiving Day, but it also made me happy to see so many people enjoying the beautiful park together on a day that’s all about being thankful.

Overall, it was one of the best hikes I’ve ever done. From my car back to my car I covered 9.38 miles in a little over 4 hours with a 4,000+ foot climb.

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Oh, Hey!

And just like that, it’s been over a month since I last posted. Looks like we have a lot of catching up to do…

I’m now more than halfway finished with my contract. Whoa. Time has certainly flown by and it’s making me anxious and excited for where I’m heading next. I don’t know where I’ll be, but I know it’ll be an awesome adventure. So what have I been up since we last chatted? Hiking, duh. And working. And meeting friends. And falling deeper in love with the PNW.

I’ve seen a lot of waterfalls… like, a lot.

I ran the Trail of Ten Falls in Silver Falls State Park, which featured, obviously, ten waterfalls.

South Falls – I started here at the South parking lot
North Falls – One of my favorites of the 10!
Upper North Falls – photo cred to the couple I kept creeping up behind

I went up to the Columbia River Gorge area and saw Multnomah Falls, the tallest in Oregon.

And checked out Horsetail Falls…

And even hiked through waist deep water to get to Oneonta Falls! (Disclaimer: the hike to get to Oneonta was pretty epic, through a canyon and along (in) the creek – BUT, it was so, freaking, crowded. Like, families bringing small children and dogs over these huge log-jams which meant more waiting time for others (I went around the line and climbed up a different way). It definitely took away from the experience a bit)

While in the Gorge, we checked out Punchbowl Falls as well…

More recently I checked out Silver and Golden Falls, outside of Coos Bay…

Silver Falls
Golden Falls

And last weekend, I went and explored Salt Creek Falls, extending my hike to see Diamond Creek Falls!

Who knew Oregon had so many dang waterfalls?! 238, to be exact… I just Googled it. 

I got to experience Crater Lake National Park in all of it’s incredible, epic beauty.

A butterfly actually landed on my finger…
Mount Scott

And my personal favorite picture, unedited…

I went to a Portland Timbers game! And they won!

I went to the coast and hiked, then watched the sunset at Cannon Beach…

Hug Point
Cape Lookout – it was like a rainforest, and there was no look out due to fog 😦
Cape Falcon

And I climbed a little mountain…

Those layers though…

 

I only have FOUR weekends left in Oregon, unless I decide to extend my contract, which I would only do if I can’t find anything that I want. But that just means I have to make the most of these next four weekends!

Unfortunately, the forest fires have been pretty bad out here and are ruining a lot of my plans – including a 12-mile summit hike we were planning on doing in 3 weeks… which as of right now, the trail is closed due to fires. Ugh. But we have a plan B, which is to head up to Mount Rainier, so either way it will be a great weekend!

I’ll try to be better about posting – at least once a week so I can really tell y’all about my weekends, rather than just photo dumping things on ya!

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Mt. Hood and McKenzie River Trail

This past weekend I got the chance to explore see some waterfalls and some mountains – the perfect weekend if you ask me!

Sunday

Sunday morning started bright and early as I made my way to Albany to meet up with Kristen. From her house, we grabbed her co-worker and then made our way to Mount Hood National Park where we planned to attack the Tom, Dick and Harry Trail by Mirror Lake!

The parking lot was full by the time we got there a little after 9am, so we had to park about a mile up the road before walking to the trail head. Get there early on the weekends to avoid this, but it wasn’t terrible and there was a path to follow along the road.

After about a mile of a lot of dirt switchbacks, we reached Mirror Lake! Our goal was to get to the top of Tom, Dick and Harry Mountain, so we didn’t stay too long at the lake and opted to do the loop on the way back. Up, up, up we went until…

Breathtaking.

Snow caps of Mt. St Helens, Mt Ranier and Mt Adams

The trail was easy to navigate since it’s pretty heavily traveled. The last bit to get to the summit was a lot of rocks, but nothing too strenuous. The views were all 100% worth it. We hung out at the time for awhile and all agreed that we could have stayed there forever. But eventually we started to make our way back down.

We went around Mirror Lake the opposite way to see the classic Mirror Lake view with Mt. Hood in the background.

Then we made our way back to the car for a total of 7.2 miles (per my GPS watch). After the hike we headed up to the Timberline Lodge which sits right on Mt. Hood and has ski lifts to take skiiers/snowboarders up towards the top. There were actually people skiing – in July! The lodge was really cool to walk through and check out, so I would definitely recommend a pit stop there if you’re in the area. We ended our day with some lunch at Mt. Hood Brewing Company, then made the trek home!

Monday

I stayed a bit more local and explored the Willamette National Forest area – Shahalie Falls, Koosah Falls, and the Blue Pool were on my list to see!

First up: Shahalie Falls!

The trailhead to the Waterfall Trail actually starts at Sahalie Falls. I got there around 8:45 and there were only 1-2 other cars in the lot.

After stopping to check out Sahalie Falls at the trailhead, I started down the path to Koosah Falls. It was down stream, so downhill and flat which made it perfect to get a little jog in. I ended up speed walking/jogging until I hit Koosah, stopping every now and then to look at my surroundings.

I kept going down to the Carmen Reservoir and debating continuing on to the Blue Pool which I knew was 3 miles down, but I didn’t have service and didn’t have a map.. So I decided to go back up to the car. Once I ran back, I realized that because I didn’t have service, I couldn’t look up how to drive to the Blue Pool either…

Then I remembered that I took a screenshot of the directions the night before when I was researching – WIN! I never would have found it otherwise; there were zero signs leading me to the trailhead, but once I found it I knew I had arrived by the line of cars along the side. To get there, you want to turn at to the Trailbridge Campground sign, take a right once you go over the bridge, continue up the gravel road about a third of a mile and you will see the trail sign on the left.

According to my watch, it took me about 2 miles to get to the pool. The trail is pretty rocky in some parts but follows the river and is fairly flat overall considering some of the other trails I’ve been doing. But before I knew it, I was there…

There is zero filter on this. Zero. The water is THAT blue. It was incredible.

I didn’t make the trip down to the water, but watched a lot of others climb down. One crazy lady even jumped in – I’ve heard the water temps aren’t higher than 40 degrees, no thank you. I could have sat there and stared at the water forever, it was just unreal.

I met a very nice older couple who actually are originally from PA, right outside of Maryland! It’s such a small world and is so fun to meet all of these people. We chatted for a few minutes and they offered to snap some pictures for me, which I was thankful for because my selfie game is only so strong…

After saying bye to my new friends, I hit the trail and headed back to the car. It was about 4 miles total once I got back to my car.

And that wrapped up another solid weekend exploring the PNW. It’s getting harder and harder to justify going back east…

Sometimes I Work

While I’m living for the weekends when I have the chance to get out and explore this amazing state, I do, actually, work.

I’m through my second week and I’m getting adjusted pretty well. I was actually ready to get started with work after the week off to drive across the country – mostly because I do better when I have a schedule. The first few days were a lot of orientation, computer-based training things, learning protocols, and just getting a feel for how things are done; but now I’m up and running!

I’m in a small, community based hospital. There are a lot of differences between this place and the system that I was working for for the past 1.5 years. Not only the size of the hospitals, but the size of the caseload, the productivity requirements, the speed and the documentation.

To put things into perspective:

  • Back in Philly I was floating between 4 different hospitals with bed numbers from 220-350 beds per hospital. Here, there are 113 beds.
  • In Philly, I could be given a list of anywhere from 12-25 patients depending on the day/hospital/coverage. Here, I’m lucky if I get assigned more than 6-7 patients. We do pick up new consults as they come in and see post-op orthopedic patients day zero, so that adds to the list. But I’m still not seeing more than 7-8 patients a day.
  • The ICU here I would compare more to a step-down, or even a step-down from a step-down unit back in Philly. I’m grateful for the experience I got in Philly of being in a large ICU with trauma, but there isn’t quite any of that here.
  • They provide me with my scrubs! I come in to work wearing anything I want (aka yoga pants and, pick up a freshly cleaned pair of scrubs, and at the end of the day I drop them in a laundry bin. No bringing home nasty hospital scrubs?! Score.
  • The documentation is sort of from the stone ages. It’s all very open-ended which makes me type way too much and take too long to write my notes. Things are hard to find in the charts and some things that I was so used to being able to look up, aren’t even able to be found. So that’s been frustrating,  but I’m making it work.

All of my co-workers have been so great at helping me get oriented and that’s made the transition easier. I’ve been told horror stories of lack of orientation and being thrown to the wolves so this was a good surprise. Overall, I can’t complain. I’m doing something I love in a beautiful state that get to explore every weekend!

Does it get easier?

I had the chance to meet up with a few travelers who have a few contracts already under their belt when I first moved to Eugene. One of the first questions I asked them was “Does it get easier?”

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Does moving away from family get easier? Does it get easier to say goodbye to the comfort of having friends down the street? Is it hard to have to start over every three months? Over time, is it easier to find friends and groups to be involved with? Do you ever get to a point when you aren’t consistently feeling lonely?

No. But sometimes, yes.

It’s never easy to say goodbye to family. Thankfully, technology makes saying goodbye a little easier. FaceTime, Skype, and all of those apps that help us keep in touch, make things a little easier. Between contracts, take that time to get home and see family. But it doesn’t truly get easier when you make that next move.

It gets different, they said. Not necessarily easier.  You learn how to adapt quicker. You find different ways to make friends. You get more comfortable with being uncomfortable. You embrace the fact that you’re getting a chance to experience something that others don’t get to experience. You take in the moments and just take it all day by day.

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A hard thing for me is the time difference. When I wake up, most of my friends are a quarter through their work days. I have multiple texts from my group chats that started 3 hours prior when they all woke up (thank you, do not disturb, for allowing me to sleep through these texts). At night, when I’m typically feeling the most vulnerable and alone, all of my friends and family are asleep. I’m getting out of work as their eating dinner or settling down for the night. I’m eating dinner as they’re in bed. It makes the time that I do get to talk to people more special, but it also makes it harder to coordinate times to communicate.

Another thing that I’m struggling with is seeing my friends doing things and feeling serious FOMO. Because I’m alone. Across the country. And am still trying to find my place in this new city. I know in the end this experience will be worth it, but it’s hard. What helped me through my first week is a few great friends who have taken the time to FaceTime with me, cheer me up with texts or phone calls, and provide me with amazing words of support and encouragement, helping to remind me why I’m doing this. So thank you to those friends who have taken the time to reach out and check on how I’m adjusting, I appreciate you all more than you could ever know.

So. As I’m adjusting to this life, as I’m learning how to get by and push past those feelings, as I’m building my character and stepping out of my comfort zone, as I’m learning patience and learning more about myself than I’ve ever known – it may not get easier, but I know I’ll always have people back home supporting me and waiting for me when I (if I? haha) come back.

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